It's safe to say that New York City's Mayor Bill De Blasio might like a do-over right now. This week, his team released a video that's drawn widespread mockery, derision, and criticism for potential misuse of city funds. And if that sounds like a steep price to pay for an uncomfortable political ad — though De Blasio himself would disagree with that word ― you'd be right. So, why not watch the De Blasio video that has people criticizing him, and judge for yourself?
The video was released on De Blasio's Twitter account on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 27, and though it's hardly the worst thing you'll see on a major politician's Twitter account (the election of Donald Trump has blown those standards apart altogether), it's more than a little awkward.
The basic upshot is that it's a musical sketch, in which De Blasio calls up his office and listens to a show tune-style song about the city's accomplishments under his tenure. The two singers are James Monroe Iglehart and Jenna Ushkowitz, both of them Broadway performers, and they sing praise both for the city's advancements, and for De Blasio specifically, with Ushkowitz at one point belting out the excruciatingly awkward lyric: "No matter what will be, we’ve got Billy D. B.!"
Now, whatever your opinion of the video, it seems like a fairly innocent feature, seemingly done in an attempt at good humor and self-promotion. But it's being scrutinized thanks to the price tag it carried, and where the money came from — namely, from the city's coffers. According to The New York Times, the video cost $1,000 to produce, and it was indeed paid for by City Hall. Obviously, that's a pittance in relative terms, but it's nonetheless irritating to some people.
And furthermore, outside of the criticism the video has produced, its impact has been pretty negligible. At the time of this writing, three days after De Blasio tweeted it from his official account, the video has received only 127 retweets. Which means that so far, it's earned just one retweet for every $7.87 spent.
De Blasio has strongly denied accusations that the video is effectively a campaign ad (he's up for reelection in 2018), insisting that ads have to be "broadcast" to qualify as ads ― a standard under which online-only ads, which De Blasio himself employed during his 2014 mayoral campaign, would not exist.
Whether or not there's any significant political fallout from this remains to be seen — and it'd be a safe guess that there won't be, considering how few people seem to have actually watched the video. If the tweet can't even go viral, it's hard to imagine a politically consequential amount of people getting that riled up about it. But regardless, you can mark this one down as a needless and very awkward own-goal by the De Blasio team.